Last week I had the privilege of attending the funeral of one of my dads oldest and dearest friends. I say privilege because it was a reminder and a blessing in so many was. I am SO sad and sorry for his family, they said goodbye to a truly wonderful man. Death is always hard. No matter the circumstances.
As I hugged his wife of almost 42 years I started to cry. I squeezed her and said a very inadequate "I am so sorry." She replied with a thank you and then she said, "you know, you have been here, only it was worse." As I stood there holding her hand, gazing upon her husband, I shook my head and replied "I do not know about worse...just different."
Because, really, I cannot imagine the pain of losing a husband of 42 years.
The message the pastor gave was excellent. He said everything I would have. The first point he made was one that has stood out to me the most since Caden's death. When we do not fully comprehend God's plan, when we are confused or do not understand the why of something, we can trust God, His word and His character. We know that God is good... even when bad, hard and hurtful things happen... God never changes. It is just always so much easier to believe God is good when life is easy and breezy. When really, it is much more helpful to cling to Gods goodness when life is tough...because if He isn't...then what?
The pastor finished the service by giving the gospel. I cannot think of a better time to tell people of the saving work of Christ. When do people contemplate life and death more then at a funeral. As I sat and listened to the man offering life giving words to the crowd gathered there, I wondered how many people were hearing the truth for the first time. Not just listening... but really hearing the message.
How many people sitting there were struck with the inescapable truth of the consequence of their sin. (Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God) If God is Holy, how can we, as sinners live with Him in eternity if He cannot be near sin?
The answer... Christ.
God's own son.
Jesus, came and lived a sinless life. He died in our place, paying our debt. (John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.)
He rose, conquering death ( 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day) so that we would have the hope of a forever with God. And all of this...the love, the righteousness, the forever in Heaven is ours if we only believe...Accept that we are sinners, know we cannot do it on our own... rest in the truth that Jesus did what we could not. (Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.) Death is separation from God.. In one word, Hell. Life, is living forever in the presence of God… Heaven.
I read somewhere that for those who believe in Christ’s work on the cross, this life is as close to Hell as they will ever get. And for those who do not believe, this life is as close to Heaven as they will ever get…
As I sat listening to the words of God being said to the crowd…I prayed that some would hear… really hear the words, and on that day…the day we said goodbye to a dear friend and loved one, would be the very first day of someone else’s life.
Their eternal life.